Seminarians finish the Camino de Santiago

Seminarians finish the Camino de Santiago

Camden seminarians Ryan Meehan and Steve Robbins and Wade Trainor, a seminarian of the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., take in the view of the Atlantic Ocean from Finisterre on the west coast of Spain, after walking some 560 miles since June.

This summer, Seminarians Stephen Robbins and Ryan Meehan made the Camino de Santiago, a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of Saint James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. They shared their journey weekly on the iRace4Vocations Facebook page. The following is a glimpse of what they’ve experienced.

July 3

After all of the emotions that came with our arrival in Santiago, the next day it was once again time to walk. This time, however, our destination was Finisterre, which in English is translated as “the end of the world.” In the days before Columbus’ voyage, this spot was believed by many to actually be the end of the world. For many years, this has been a spot of pilgrimage, and its great beauty leads people to reflect on eternity, as well as their own mortality. Finisterre lies on the west coast of Spain, and is about 90 kilometers from Santiago.

Walking to Finisterre has been a different experience from what we had become used to on the Camino. I think these past few days have been my favorite days of walking so far. There is only a fraction of the people that were going to Santiago, and the scenery has been absolutely magnificent. These walks have been great times to give thanks to God for all of the wonderful experiences we have had so far. To make things even better, we met a priest from South Africa who has been able to celebrate Mass for us each day. He has also shared a lot of wisdom about the priesthood with us.

One of the first things we did in Finisterre was head to the beach. The water was quite cold, but refreshing after 35 days of tough walking. In the evening, we went to Mass on the rocks of Finisterre overlooking the ocean. This was probably one of my favorite moments of the Camino. It really brought the mystery of the Eucharist alive for me. After Mass, we watched the sunset, which Finisterre is famous for. It did not disappoint. It’s easy to see how people, staring into the vast horizon, could think that it was the end of the world. We have the privilege of knowing not only that this is not the end of the physical world, but that there is so much more to hope for in the life to come.

 

July 4

As we approached the Kilometer marker in Muxia, I cannot help but reflect again upon our pilgrimage to our home in Heaven, when the Lord calls us to Himself. As I stood, looking out upon this vast and deep body of water, the Atlantic Ocean, I could not help but notice similarities between looking at the ocean and Looking at God, and eternity with Him.

We have just walked roughly 560 miles to our final destination, the ocean. I knew that this was the end of the Camino, that this part of our pilgrimage was over. I know some things about this ocean, yet not everything. I know that just on the other side of this body of ocean is home. I know that the Jersey Shore is the best shore in the world. I know that, when there is a storm or a hurricane, the ocean is rough. Yet I, and we as a human race, in reality have never discovered everything there is to know about the ocean. There is a mystery to the ocean we will never discover.

In like manner, I can say the same thing about God. I know God, but I will never know everything about God until I come to the Heavenly Feast. I know that Jesus Christ died once, for the redemption of us all. I know that Christ has gone before us to prepare a home for us. I know that, when we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we become like Christ; we become like God. I know that we were made in the image and likeness of God. And I can say many other things that I know, but I do not know everything. There will be a time when we shall know the fullness of God, that is, when we see the Lord face to face. It reminds me of a passage from Scripture we read every Sunday for Night Prayer: “They shall see the Lord face to face and bear His name on their foreheads. The night shall be no more. They will need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God will give them light and they shall reign forever” (Rev 22: 4-5). Just like the ocean is mysterious to us, so too is God. We can never stop learning about both. But there will be a time when the learning will be over, and we shall know Him entirely, when we dive into Eternity with Him.

This wraps up our Camino. We have walked just short of 900k. Today, we will be traveling to Fatima, Portugal, where we will spend a week in prayer and reflection. Then we will be headed home on July 12. Please continue to pray for us, as we will be sure to pray for you.

July 9

We are especially blessed to be here in Fatima during the 100 year anniversary. It allows us to thank God and Our Lady for all the opportunities they have given us, as well as to present all of our intentions before them.

Here in Fatima, we have had opportunities for spiritual nourishment that we didn’t have on the Camino. There are Masses all day in many different languages, we can go to confession whenever we want, and Jesus is always there waiting for us in the adoration chapel. Every night there is a rosary and procession with the statue of the Blessed Mother. We have also had the chance to meet up with some of our brother seminarians, including Peter Gallagher, our diocesan brother who is studying in Rome, and Father Miller, the house spiritual director at Saint Andrew’s Hall. We have all been able to grow in friendship and fraternity here at this holy place of Our Lady.

Fatima is a very prayerful place. There is a sense of peace and tranquility that permeates throughout the entire sanctuary. I am very touched by the great faith and devotion of all the pilgrims who come here. I found this to be especially evident during the nightly procession. The message that Mary brought to those three shepherd children 100 years ago is still just as applicable to the troubles of today. The only lasting answer to our world’s problems lies in conversion and prayer to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

July 12

Our pilgrimage of France, Spain and Portugal has come to an end. I cannot believe how fast 50 days has come and gone. I will definitely miss this pilgrimage. While on this pilgrimage, all I had to focus on was God. Everything directed my eyes to God, and I know that sometimes in the world, with all the difficulties it throws at me, my vision can get blurred from seeing God in everything around me. But, I know that this is something I must work on. I must try to slow down the fast paced lifestyle I have at home, so that I can see God in everything around me.

This is what I have been reflecting on: that one can go on a pilgrimage to find God easier, but if he does not take something from what he has learned or experienced on his pilgrimage, and apply it to his daily lifestyle, then what is the point of the journey in the first place? You see, we can all take a pilgrimage somewhere, but if it does not change us in some way, then it is more or less a pointless journey. Every day we are called to give up something, an old habit or something we are addicted to, so that we can grow in our relationship with God. A pilgrimage is supposed to illuminate those things we need to get rid of so we can grow closer to God. A pilgrimage is making sacrifices and suffering, so that we can detach ourselves from the world, and attach ourselves more fully to God. Even in the busyness of our daily lives, this is something we must understand. We must always detach ourselves from the world, so that we can learn to grow and serve God, while we are making our pilgrimage to our True Home in Heaven.

I want to thank you for your prayers for us while we made this pilgrimage. I, especially, want to thank all those who have made this pilgrimage happen for us. Without your kindness and generosity, this trip would have never happened. I also want to thank you all for reading our blogs, and for walking along with us, spiritually, as you read our blogs. God Bless.

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